Wednesday Briefing: Blast Kills Hundreds at a Gaza Hospital

Palestinian civilians after a blast struck a hospital in Gaza City.Credit…Abed Khaled/Associated Press

Blast kills hundreds at a hospital in Gaza

An explosion killed hundreds of people yesterday at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City that was packed with thousands of civilians sheltering there, Palestinian officials said.

Palestinian authorities said the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military said a misfired Palestinian militant rocket, not an Israeli strike, was responsible for the deadly explosion. The health ministry in Gaza said it expected the death toll to rise.

The incident compounded an escalating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, as President Biden was expected to arrive in Israel today. Even before the hospital explosion, rescuers were struggling to free more than a thousand people trapped under rubble, and fights were breaking out over loaves of bread.

Israel said yesterday that it had intensified its bombing in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Younis and Rafah. Israel’s bombing campaign has killed 2,800 people and wounded 10,000 others, according to Palestinian officials, and Israel’s orders to evacuate northern Gaza have displaced at least 600,000, according to the United Nations.

U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to provide safety and aid to Gaza’s two million residents have so far yielded few results. The Rafah crossing into Egypt is the only potential portal for people to escape and for supplies to enter, but it has remained closed, and an Israeli blockade has blocked basic necessities from reaching Gaza.

U.S. and Israeli officials have agreed to work on developing a plan to get humanitarian aid into Gaza and to set up “safe zones.” A separate diplomatic effort led by the U.S. and Qatar — a tiny nation with extensive ties to militant groups — is focused on negotiating the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Rising anger: Aid and human rights groups have stepped up criticism of the Israeli bombing and order to evacuate. Israeli officials do not deny striking residential buildings and mosques or killing and injuring noncombatants. However, they insist that they are targeting Hamas’s officials, weapons caches, tunnels and safe houses, all deeply intertwined with Gazan civilian infrastructure.

U.S. support: The Pentagon ordered about 2,000 more troops to prepare to deploy to the Middle East. The troops would provide advice and medical support to Israeli forces, not take part in combat, officials said.

President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing yesterday.Credit…Pool photo by Sergei Savostyanov

Can China’s Belt and Road program go on?

Representatives from many of the nearly 150 countries that participated in the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s massive infrastructure fund, are assembling in Beijing today. President Vladimir Putin of Russia is also expected to attend to bolster ties with Xi Jinping, China’s leader.

The program has disbursed close to $1 trillion to mostly developing countries. But China’s debt has mounted, its economic crises have grown, and its ability to project power abroad has been limited. China, the world’s largest bilateral lender, is now its largest debt collector and has begun emphasizing smaller grants.

Background: The Belt and Road program gave China a role in global development rivaling that of the U.S. and the World Bank, allowing Beijing to impart its political views, much as the West has long used development aid to push for democracy.

The chip wars: The U.S. announced additional limits on domestic sales of advanced semiconductors to China to curb its progress on supercomputing and A.I.

India’s chief justice said that gay citizens must be protected from discrimination in access to goods and services.Credit…Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

India’s top court rejects same-sex marriage

India’s Supreme Court yesterday unanimously rejected a plea to legalize same-sex marriage, with the chief justice saying it was up to Parliament to create any laws recognizing same-sex unions.

Still, the court offered glimmers of hope to proponents. The judges ruled that transgender people can marry other transgender people — if one spouse identifies as a woman and one as a man — and expanded the definition of discrimination. And the four opinions issued included pointedly sympathetic rhetoric to the petitioners.


Asia Pacific

India and its defense companies have made clear they would like to do more work for the U.S.Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times
  • The U.S. is trying to bring India on as a defense partner to deter China, beginning with the repair of American ships in Indian ports.

  • Satellite photos show how Russia could be shipping weapons from North Korea.

Around the World

The Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon River, reached its lowest level ever recorded this week.Credit…Bruno Kelly/Reuters
  • A severe drought has pushed the Amazon, which holds a fifth of the world’s fresh water, to the brink.

  • Opponents of Poland’s nationalist governing party won a clear majority of seats in the general election, which may shift the country’s deeply conservative policies.

  • Representative Jim Jordan lost his first bid to be elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, prolonging a fight that has paralyzed a branch of the government.

Other Big Stories

  • The suspect in a shooting that Belgian officials described as a terrorist act had been known to the country’s security services for years.

  • “A.I. agents” that play Minecraft could one day replace office workers.

A Morning Read


Nintendo admits it: Mario is kind of boring. Even his quest to rescue a princess was old way before he jumped on the bandwagon. So, beginning with mushrooms, the video game company has fed the world’s most famous plumber an increasingly bizarre diet of items.

Now, after a decade of development, there’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder, which turns the franchise into a carnival of bizarre delights.


Credit…Marta Monteiro

The risks of iron deficiency for women

Roughly 35 percent of women of reproductive age in the U.S. do not have sufficient amounts of iron in their bodies. The condition can cause fatigue, brain fog and other symptoms but is rarely tested for and often goes undiagnosed.

This oversight is partly because symptoms can be difficult to pin down but also because iron deficiency is rarely recognized as an urgent condition with short- and long-term consequences. This year, for the first time in its history, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics issued a recommendation that all women and girls who menstruate should regularly be screened for iron deficiency.

Here’s what to know.


Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Cook reina pepiada (or curvy queen) arepas stuffed with chicken and avocado.

Watch these eight great concert films.

Read “Tremor,” the new novel by Teju Cole.

Visit the favorite spots of legendary artists in Paris.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. Read about El Times, our Spanish language newsletter.

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